Short film on Tangled Hierarchy with Jitish Kallat

To mark the 75th anniversary of India’s Day of Independence, 15 August 2022, John Hansard Gallery is proud to present a new short film featuring an interview with Jitish Kallat on how the exhibition Tangled Hierarchy originated, alongside a tour of the works included.

Curated by Jitish Kallat, Tangled Hierarchy includes contributions by: Kader Attia, Kim Beom, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mahatma Gandhi, Mona Hatoum, Partition Museum, Sir Roger Penrose, Paul Pfeiffer, Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran, Mykola Ridnyi, Roger Shepard, Homai Vyarawalla, Alexa Wright, and Zarina.

Combining archival and scientific artefacts, alongside works by contemporary artists, Tangled Hierarchy explores the various relationships between silence and speech, visibility and invisibility, partitioned land, bodies, and phantom pain. Themes of maps, borders, causal loops and unsettling displacement are woven throughout the exhibition. The exhibition centres on a collection of five humble yet remarkable used envelopes. Each envelope is addressed to Mahatma Gandhi and all are carefully conserved within the Mountbatten Archive at the University of Southampton. John Hansard Gallery invited the artist Jitish Kallat to curate an exhibition which considers the Mountbatten Archive and the “Gandhi envelopes” as a reference point for a series of artistic conversations and correspondences.

On Monday 2nd June 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten (the newly appointed Viceroy of India) met with Mahatma Gandhi to discuss the imminent partition of the Indian subcontinent, a proposition strongly opposed by Gandhi. As a consequence of Gandhi undertaking a vow of silence on Mondays, he communicated with Mountbatten by writing notes on the backs of used envelopes, which are now the only surviving record of their exchange. Tangled Hierarchy opened on 2nd June 2022, marking 75 years to the day since this momentous meeting.

Tangled Hierarchy is a speculative curatorial thought experiment. Artworks, archival documents and objects, entangle into an interwoven system of inquiries. The exhibition dates overlap with the tumultuous weeks in 1947 when maps were abruptly redrawn, leading to catastrophic violence and the forced migration of twenty million people. As we reflect upon the historic Gandhi notes, we find ourselves once again in a tangled hierarchy – a world caught in a strange recursive loop – where tragic human displacement of a scale similar to that of the Indian Partition is currently unravelling in Ukraine.” – Jitish Kallat

We are also proud to announce that Tangled Hierarchy will travel to India in partnership with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. The exhibition will open on December 13, 2022, and run parallel to the 5th edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale.  An extensive exhibition catalogue will be published alongside this reimagining of the exhibition, featuring new essays and critical reflections.

Tangled Hierarchy continues at John Hansard Gallery until 10 September 2022.

Filmed and edited by Aaron West, City Eye. With thanks to Aaron West, Susan Beckett, Jitish Kallat and John Hansard Gallery staff and technical team.

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